Machinist gives back

EDMONDS — Chris Louie was among more than 30 Machinist Volunteer Program members who came together last year to build a wheelchair ramp for a retired shop steward who had been diagnosed with cancer.

He looks back on this project as his most rewarding volunteer experience.

For the seco

nd consecutive year, Louie received a bronze-level President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House for the 189 hours of community service he performed last year.

Louie, 60, of Edmonds, is a coordinator for a joint effort between Boeing and its Machinists union.

IAM/Boeing Joint Programs is a partnership between the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Boeing Co. “to improve health, safety and education in the workplace,” according to the program’s website.

The level of the award is measured by the number of hours of service.

To receive a bronze award, adults must volunteer 100 to 249 hours in a year. A silver award requires 250 to 499 hours and a gold award requires 500 hours or more.

It was created to recognize the contributions of volunteers — individuals, families and groups.

“Once a person gets the feeling of giving back, they want to do it again and again,” Louie said.

Louie completed his community service with the Machinists Volunteer Program, a part of the Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in Seattle. The district represents more than 26,000 workers.

Last year, 684 Machinists members took part in 144 different community activities and clocked in more than 6,000 hours of volunteer work, earning the gold-level award as a group.

In all, eight volunteers from the union received the service award; seven were awarded bronze and one received silver. Louie is the program’s only volunteer in Snohomish County to receive the award.

“I’m glad to see these guys get this kind of recognition from the White House,” said Bryan Corliss, the union spokesman. “It’s nice for someone to say thank you for all they do.”

Nearly every weekend, Louie and other union members meet to offer services to the community, including serving food at the Everett and Union Gospel missions, building 10 wheelchair ramps for the disabled, organizing food drives, adopting a road, holding Salvation Army toy drives and organizing a motorcycle-ride fundraiser.

Last year, members of the program raised $276,000 for Guide Dogs of America.

When working at the missions, in particular, Louie feels a responsibility to help those in need. He gets up early on weekend mornings to serve breakfast to the homeless by about 7 a.m.

“When you see people out of work, you feel lucky to have a job,” Louie said. “I wish I could do more.”

Louie and the other winners received a certificate of award, a pin and a signed letter from the president.

He was honored along with the seven other award-winners Saturday at the union’s annual Machinist Volunteer Program banquet.

“I hope people are inspired by our district,” Louie said.

Ashley Stewart; astewart@heraldnet.com: 425-339-3453.

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